In this very competitive market, your store name of choice can make you memorable or forgettable to customers, so it is important to strategize and put your best effort into it. To help you get started, we found out what experts have to say about the best practices for picking store names.
Here are the top 15 store name ideas and tips from the pros:
1. Make Sure It’s Unique
Deborah Sweeney, CEO, MyCorporation.com
Conduct a name search and register a trademark. Without the search, you could be facing a trademark infringement case on another name that has already been taken and not even realize it! Do a name search so you know your name is an original work of authorship not in use by anyone else. Then, claim the name by filing for a trademark.
Don’t make it complicated to spell. Pick a name with five to 10 letters and a minimum of one consonant in it.
2. Stick With Simply Spelled Names That Explain What You Do
RaShea Drake, Communications Specialist, Frontier Communications
Stay away from silly/easy misconstrued spellings. For instance, naming your restaurant “Hunger Pangs” is clever, yet there are a ton of people who would search for “Hunger Pains” instead. Same things goes with spelling a common word differently, such as “Güd Füd”.
Make sure your name gives a clue into what you do/sell/who you are. “McGee’s” could be anything. “McGee’s House of Guitars”, says it all. Make sure your business won’t be confused with another business.
3. Create A Team For Brainstorming Name Ideas
Paige Arnof-Fenn, Founder & CEO, Mavens & Moguls
I started a global marketing firm 16 years ago. We do a lot of naming work and the first step is to create the committee or team in charge, identify who else should be involved in the process, and then set the criteria.
Here are some examples of possible criteria:
- has versatility (works in multiple ways from course name to concept to book)
- is “sexy” (catches fire/engaging)
- can be sustainable over time (longevity)
- looks good
- sounds good when spoken
- contains playful element
- beginning of alphabet if possible
- URL available
Once these are confirmed then you can start the process. We have many exercises to help generate names and a process to pare them down and test for a winner. It is a lot of fun and harder than it looks.
Marc Prosser, Fit Small Business
Once you find a store name you love, you need to reserve your website name so someone else doesn’t get it. Use the domain search widget below from Bluehost to see if your website name is available. If it’s not, Bluehost will offer some related names for you to consider.
5. Base Your Store Name on Your Business Size
Stephen Gibson, Founder, Vyteo
The best store names depend completely on the type of business. Small one person shops often do well with a creative, clever name. Larger brands typically shoot for something that fits their business but doesn’t exactly say it. The worst store names are those that are neither creative nor insightful, and don’t try to encapsulate the idea.
Here are some of my favorite ones for each:
- Small shop: ImagiKnit, which is a small yarn and needlework shop in The Castro, SF, CA
- Large corporate brand: Amazon is my favorite. It makes perfect sense for their business, even as it has grown beyond books. But if you hadn’t heard of it in any other context, you wouldn’t think of an eCommerce goliath.
- Boring name: General Electric is an extremely uninspired brand name. Hence they shortened it to GE.
Of course my favorite brand name of all time is my own–Vyteo–where we host the most creative startup reviews on the planet.
6. Make It Obvious What You Sell
Adam Gore, Founder & Managing Director, Find Me a Gift
Small businesses should try and choose a name that makes it obvious to the customer who you are and what you sell. The more your name reflects your brand, the more the name will resonate with your customers, making them more likely to remember you next time they’re out shopping. I came up with the name Find Me a Gift because we do what it says on the tin. It is an easy, straight forward way of buying thoughtful, unique items for friends and family, and I wanted our company name to reflect this mindset.
7. Try a Naming Competition Website like Squadhelp
Adam Watson, Managing Director, Hollywood Mirrors
When I am struggling to name a business or find a company domain name that is available to purchase, I use a service called Squadhelp.com.
It is a naming competition website where people enter the suitable names as per your task description. In previous competitions I have held, I have had 500 entries from over 200 applicants to the competition. My view is that 200 minds are better than one and you are bound to find a few you like and also give you ideas you had never thought of.
Squadhelp is a paid for service, but if you want to create a memorable brand name, it is a great way to do so for a small investment.
8. Your Store Name Should Be Culturally Friendly & Tell A Story
Fabian Geyrhalter, Principal, FINIEN
When people ask you what your store name means (and they will), make sure it comes with a good story to back it up. There is so much competition in the marketplace, and consumers are seeking more than just a product—they are seeking to connect with your store on an emotional level, and with you on a personal level. The story behind your name can become a large part of that connection.
Additionally, a key factor for stores that may expand, possibly even into a global franchise, is that the brand name should resonate across cultures. Make sure you’ve researched the breadth of meanings and connotations your chosen name might carry.
Maggie Aland, Staff Writer, Fit Small Business
When thinking of your name, you’ll first want to make sure you can get a domain name that contains your store name. Use the domain name search below, powered by Bluehost, to check if your desired domain name is available. A .com domain is the best choice, but if it is not available, you can also go with another top level domain like .net., .io, or .me.
One of the best store names ideas or tips is to use a keyword list. Strong and creative keywords are the best building blocks when deciding on an effective business name. It helps you come up with the most unique names without sacrificing your searchability online. When generating your keyword list, think about the nature of your business, your core values, your company’s brand, and common naming standards that are used in your industry. From these guidelines, you can come up with a strong set of keywords. For example, Puma conveys the idea of speed and athletic agility even if the word directly refers to a brand of shoes.
Each state has its own guidelines for business names, especially when you are setting up a corporation or a limited liability company (LLC). Some states may not allow you to use certain words unless your business falls into certain criteria, while other states restrict business names that are deceptively similar to another. There are also options to reserve a name, or register one as a trade name if you are not yet ready to set up your business.
To help you out with this, the best thing to do is to visit the website of the state agency that handles the filing of business names to find out what your options are. Their website should be able to provide you with the guidelines along with with a function that will let you search for existing business names, as well as let you register your own.
The go to idea for naming your store is always to reflect what your business does. While this is a sound plan, being too specific may end up limiting the future growth of your business. Consider allowing for a slightly general business name so you won’t have to revamp your brand down the line. For example, Joe’s Logo Design may be limiting, as opposed to Joe’s Graphic Design.
It’s easy to fall into the “train wreck method.” This is when you take part of an adjective and fuse it to a noun. Many zealous, new business owners will initially feel that it’s a brilliant strategy, but the result, while it would make sense at times, can look and sound awful. It’s similar to mixing chocolate syrup with ketchup! Examples of the types of names to avoid are Ameri, Tech, Corp, and Tron.
It won’t hurt to get feedback from friends, family, and most of all, from your target audience. Start by coming up with a number of names and ask them which one they prefer most. Chances are, if none of the names you’ve listed are any good, they will suggest something else to you. Getting feedback is also useful because you get insight into things you may not know on your own. For example, words may sound good but would have a negative connotation in other languages (e.g. GM named its new car model the “Nova” without realizing that the name can be translated as “doesn’t go” in Spanish).
“Hyphens confuse people and will literally send your potential customers to someone else when they type in your domain without the hyphen,” says Ivana Taylor, CEO of Cleveland marketing company Third Force and founder of DIYMarketers. Nowadays, when everything is linked to the internet, customers aren’t as patient when having to search store names that use hyphens. This puts your business at risk of losing a customer to another establishment that’s closely named. It’s also a good idea to make sure that your chosen store name is SEO friendly so it’s easily found on online searches.
Friends and family will all want you to adapt their store names ideas. Granted that it is a good to ask people’s opinions, your store name is still something you have to live with everyday, so make sure that whatever you chose is one that you really like as well. As the owner, you have the last word on the matter and if the name doesn’t sound or feel right to you, don’t choose it. The name of your store says as much about your business as it does about you, which is all the more reason for your opinion to matter.
Why stop with store names? Check out also Fit Small Business’ article on ways to come up with domain names to go with your business.
Over To You
By this time you should be more than ready to come up with a store name that can impress. Just remember that it’s great to be unique and stand out, but staying true to your brand should also be a priority. You’re likely going to have to go through some awful ones before you find that perfect store name so keep going until you do!
Do you have any store name ideas and tips worth sharing? Feel free to leave it in the comments below.